Kenya

Quick Facts

Region: Africa

Population:
39,002,772

Religion:

About 76 percent of Kenya’s population is Christian, with Protestants outnumbering Roman Catholics. Muslims make up about 7 percent of the population. The remainder of Kenya’s people are mainly followers of traditional African religions. There are also a small number of Hindus and Sikhs.

Language:

Kenya’s official languages are English and Swahili; both are widely used for communication between members of different ethnic groups. Nearly all of the African ethnic groups in Kenya also have their own languages, making for considerable linguistic diversity within the country. Many Kenyans thus speak three languages: the language of their particular ethnic group, Swahili, and English.

Area (sq. km):
582,650 square meters

Time:

GMT +3

When To Travel

It is difficult to generalise about Kenya’s climate due to the contrasting geographical zones. Along the coastal belt, the climate is fairly hot and humid all year round. In the far north, temperatures can range from 40ºc during the day to 20ºc at night. The central part of the country and the Rift Valley enjoy a temperate climate, with two rainy seasons – the ‘long’ rains in April/May and the ‘short’ rains from November to mid-December. However, even in the central region the temperature can vary considerably between Nairobi and Masai Mara. It can often be quite cool in Nairobi when it is hot in the Rift Valley, so take a pullover. In general, August to October is the driest period.

The climate in Kenya, like most African countries, is dominated by the wet and dry seasons. The dry seasons run from January to March and then from June to mid-November. The short rains fall from mid-November to the end of December. Rainfall tends to occur in short bursts and usually later in the afternoon and evening. The long rains, which occur generally throughout April and May, are not a good time to visit Kenya.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

The main international airport in Kenya is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) about 15kms outside of Nairobi. Wilson Airport is Nairobi's domestic airport and several large towns and national parks also have airstrips.

Telephone:

The international dialling code for Kenya is +254. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Africa. Alternatively local sim cards and pay-as-you-go credits are easily obtainable. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.

Electricity:

The electricity supply in Africa is rated at 220 volts/50 cycles, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round three pin plugs are the most common types in Africa. Kenya has a G-type three-pin rectangular blade plug. This plug is also used in Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Food:

Kenyan food includes a variety of African and Indian recipes. Ugali is a porridge made from cornmeal or millet flour and is a local staple. 'Nyama choma', which combines meat such as goat and ugali, is popular and is eaten by the hands. Groundnut soup, stews and kebabs are also favourite dishes. Use of spices and coconut feature in Kenyan cuisine. Indian food such as pilau rice, samosas and chapatis are often eaten with meals. Tea is served very hot and sweet.

Shopping:

Traditional artefacts are not highly valued in Kenya, although varieties of wood and clay sculpture are produced for the tourist trade. The Masai are also well known for the sale of colourful red Masai blankets and beaded jewellery.

Visa: Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders currently require a visa for Kenya. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Kenya visas are easily obtained at the airport or border crossing at a cost of US$50 for most nationalities based on single entry. For some nationalities a single entry Kenya visa allows the person to enter Kenya more than once provided travel is only between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda within a 30-day period.

EAST AFRICA TOURIST VISA:
Effective 1 January, 2014, The East Africa Tourist Visa will allow travel between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with the same multiple entry visa. The visa can be issued at any of the diplomatic representations of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, at the immigration offices of the respective countries, or on line where applicable. The East Africa Tourist Visa is multiple entry visa and is be valid for 90 days.



Rwanda

For those beginning their trip in Rwanda, you can apply through the Rwanda Online Visa Application System. Under "Type of Visa" select "East Africa Tourist Visa." For more information contact your local Rwanda embassy.

Kenya

For those beginning their trip in Kenya, you can find information on the visa application process on the consular section of your local Kenya embassy's website.



Uganda

For those beginning their trip in Uganda, you can find information on the visa application process on the consular section of your local Uganda embassy's website.



The visa costs US$100.

Useful Words & Phrases

Swahili

1: Moja
10: Kumi
100: Mia or mia moja
1000: Elfu
2: Mbili
3: Tatu
4: Nne
5: Tano
6: Sita
7: Saba
8: Nane
9: Tisa
Bread: Mkate
Do you speak English?: Unasema Kiingereza?
Excuse/pardon: Samahani
Hello: Jambo
How are you?: Hujambo?
How many/much?: Ni bei gani?
No: Hapana
Thank you: Asante
Water: Maji (ya moto)
Yes: Ndiyo

Further Reading

East Africa-Lonely Planet

Going Down River Road-Meja Mwangi

Out Of Africa-Karen Blixen

Night Of The Lions - Kuki Gullimann

African Nights - Kuki Gullimann